Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, March 18, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page B:3



 Mountain Views News Saturday, March 18, 2017 


Mountain Views



Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 


Joan Schmidt


LaQuetta Shamblee


Richard Garcia


Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 


Kevin Barry


Chris Leclerc

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Rich Johnson

Merri Jill Finstrom

Rev. James Snyder

Dr. Tina Paul

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Renee Quenell

Marc Garlett

Keely Toten


Thank goodness St. Patrick’s Day is upon us. Our country is in need of 
some Irish humor about now. 

 With all the vitriol in our politics these days, we could use more brotherly 
love — which reminds me of the joke about McAlister. 

 One Saturday night, he ordered three pints at the pub. When the bartender 
asked him why he wanted three, McAlister explained: “I’ve got two 
brothers, one in America and one in Australia. Every Saturday night we go to our respective pubs, 
order three pints and drink with each other. Right now, me brothers are sipping three pints, too.” 

 McAlister continued his tradition for several months. But one Saturday he ordered only two pints. 

“Sweet goodness,” said the bartender, “did one of your brothers die?” 

 “The brothers are fine,” said McAlister. “It’s just that I quit drinking.” 

 Reports of alleged wiretapping and spying are all over the news of late. That reminds me of the one 
about a German spy who was sent to Ireland during World War II. 

 The German was instructed to meet an Irish spy named Murphy and confirm Murphy’s identity by 
saying, “The weather could change by Tuesday.” 

 After he parachuted into Ireland, he set off for town. Along the way, he asked a farmer where he 
might find a man named Murphy. 

 “Well, sir, it depends on which Murphy,” said the farmer. “We have Murphy the doctor, Murphy the 
postal carrier, Murphy the stonemason and Murphy the teacher. I, too, am a Murphy, Murphy the 

 The German got an idea. 

 “The weather could change by Tuesday,” he said. 

 “Aye,” said the farmer, “you’ll be wanting Murphy the spy.” 

 The resistance of millions to our overreaching government continues to remake our political 
landscape. It reminds me of the time a policeman caught Seamus with a bucket of fish in a no-fishing 

 “You’ve got it wrong,” Seamus said to the policeman. “These are my pet fish. I bring them to the 
reservoir every day for exercise. After they swim for 10 minutes, they come back to the bucket and I 
take them home.” 

 “Prove it,” said the cop. 

 Seamus dumped his fish into the reservoir and off they swam. An hour later, they still hadn’t 

 “Ha, you lying rogue,” said the officer. “Where are your pet fish?” 

 “Fish?” said Seamus. “What fish?” 

 The economy is exploding suddenly — nearly 300,000 private-sector jobs were created in February, 
according to ADP and Moody’s Analytics, exceeding estimates by a staggering 100,000. That gives 
hope to millions who had dropped out of the workforce entirely. 

 That reminds me of the one about St. Patrick visiting an Irish pub. Donovan, McNally and Finnegan 

 St. Patrick enter the pub and each bought him a beer. 

 When St. Patrick shook Donovan’s hand, Donovan said, “My arthritis! St. Patrick, your touch has 
cured it!” 

 St. Patrick shook McNally’s hand, and McNally said, “My blind right eye! St. Patrick, you’ve cured 

 St. Patrick went to shake Finnegan’s hand. Finnegan shouted, “Get away from me, 
St. Patrick. I’m on disability!” 

 These days, with all the conflict and disagreement going on, our public discourse could profit from 
a better sense of humor. 

 Which reminds of the time Paddy died. 

 Paddy’s wife went to the newspaper to place his obituary. The newsman said the cost was $1 a 

 “I only have $2,” said Mrs. Paddy. “Just print ‘Paddy died.’” 

 The newsman decided that old Paddy deserved more. He gave her three extra words at no 

 “A kind man you are,” said Mrs. Paddy. “Print me husband’s obituary this way: ‘Paddy died. 
Boat for sale.’” 

Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood” and “Wicked Is the Whiskey,” a Sean 
McClanahan mystery novel, both available at, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-

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Sometimes it’s possible to tell a big story in few words — as evidenced 
by an episode earlier this week that nicely illustrates 
this president’s addiction to infauxmation (via Fox News) and 
blatant lying (via Twitter).

 Basically, it’s a closed loop. Fox News pumps bilge into his brain, and he spews it 
out through his fingers. Here’s how it works:

 At 6:12 a.m. Tuesday, Trump was watching cable, as he is wont to do, and he saw 
this breaking news on Fox: “A win in the war on terror. The Trump administration 
just killed a former Guantanamo Bay detainee released by Barack Obama. Yasir al-
Silmi, once considered the worst of the worst, killed in a U.S. airstrike in Yemen. 
He had been released back in 2009 even though the Department of Defense recommended 
that he stay behind bars. One hundred twenty-two prisoners released from 
Gitmo have returned to the battlefield.”

 It was a classic Fox pseudo-story, and it got Trump’s full attention — no surprise, 
given his current heightened obsession with President Obama. It’s true that Yasir 
al-Silmi was released by Obama; it’s true that he was a recidivist who’d returned to 
terrorism. But when Fox said that 122 prisoners released from Gitmo have returned 
to terrorism, it left the impression — without explicitly saying so — that Obama had 
freed them all.

 So Trump thumbed his phone and explicitly decreed on Twitter that Obama had 
freed them all.

 Trump didn’t bother to run a fact-check, even though presidents have unparalleled 
access to data and stats. Nah, he just tweeted on impulse and animus:

 “122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have 
returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!”

 According to facts that are readily available in the real world — facts attributed to 
the U.S. director of national intelligence — 113 of those 122 Gitmo prisoners, “confirmed 
of re-engaging in terrorist activity,” were actually released from Gitmo by ... 
George W. Bush.

 And of the 86 Gitmo prisoners who are “suspected on re-engaging in terrorist 
activity,” 75 were released by George W. Bush.

 I suppose this is not a surprise, given Trump’s obsession with spewing fake news 
about Obama — ranging from his multi-year falsehoods about Obama’s place of 
birth to his evidence-free contention that Obama illegally wiretapped his Manhattan 
tower — but it’s instructive nonetheless to track Tuesday’s episode from Fox 
News’ insinuation to Trump’s outright concoction.

 This is the world we now live in, and I almost feel sorry for Sean Spicer (almost), 
because it’s his job to mop up for his boss’ BS. At a press briefing a few hours after 
Trump’s big little lie, Spicer was asked: “Will the president offer a correction to his 
tweet this morning that states that 122 prisoners were released from Gitmo by the 
Obama administration and then returned to the battlefield?”

 Spicer’s reply: “Yes, I mean, obviously the president meant in totality the number 
that had been released on the battlefield — that have been released from Gitmo since 
— individuals have been released. So that is correct.”

 If you can fork your way through that word salad, you’ll discover that Spicer did 
two contradictory things: He basically acknowledged that Trump had lied, but he 
also appeared to insist that Trump’s lie had been inadvertent, because “obviously the 
president meant in totality the number.”

 Whatever. The bottom line is that we’re stuck with a president whose habit is to 
pollute the information stream by taking stuff from Fox News and conflating it into 
fake news. In recent years numerous studies have concluded that Fox devotees are 
less well-informed than those who get most of their news from other outlets. 

 It’s our national tragedy, and an assault on truth itself, that a Fox superfan is 

occupying the White House.



During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised 
the American people over and over that if elected, he was going to be the one who would 
finally “get tough” with China.

 It’s a refrain he’d been sounding for some time. In a Wall Street Journal piece published 
a year to the day before he became president-elect, he sounded a loud alarm about 
their various economic misdeed.

 “On day one of a Trump administration the U.S. Treasury Department will designate 
China a currency manipulator,” Trump wrote. “This designation will trigger a series of 
actions that will start the process of imposing countervailing duties on cheap Chinese 
imports, defending American manufacturing and preserving American jobs.”

 It hasn’t quite worked out that way. The appointment of Iowa GOP Gov. Terry Branstad 
as U.S. Ambassador-designate to Beijing is a good start, but there is plenty left to do, 
even if the White House continues to wield the designation of “currency manipulator” 
as the stick alongside some kind of cooperation inducing carrot.

 It’s a tough row to hoe. China already holds more than $1.4 trillion in U.S. paper and, 
as the moratorium on raising the debt ceiling comes to an end, we may be forced to turn 
to them to buy up more U.S. debt, at least in the short run. Since the Beijing government 
is deep into every sector of the economy, it might not be too much of a lift to get them 
to do that but someone has to draw the line some place. There are just some things not 
worth giving up no matter how much U.S. debt the Chinese buy.

 One area that’s not given too much consideration is the acquisition of U.S. companies 
by the Chinese. Again, because so much of its so-called “private sector: takes its marching 
orders from the government, it’s hard to look at these transactions as purely benign. 
Thus the pending takeover by ANT Financial of MoneyGram, a leading private U.S.-
based payments company is something that should be approached with considerable 

 China’s record on consumer issues like cyber-security and intellectual property is, in 
a word, abysmal. That’s not an accident; according to experts the government profits to 
a considerable extent from illegal activity in this sphere, redirecting that money to fund 
expansions of its military might. They’ve hacked the U.S. Office of Personnel Management 
and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Allowing them to purchase a 
company through which people willingly turn over sensitive financial date in order to 
transmit money around the globe without intensive review and considerable thought 
into the implications seems pound-foolish and maybe not even penny-wise.

 As U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin is also a member of the Committee 
on Foreign Investment in the United States, an inter-agency federal committee charged 
with reviewing the national security implications of foreign investments in U.S. companies 
or operations. Though he may be busy with other things it is incumbent on him to 
take the lead in asking CFIUS to review the MoneyGram/ANT Financial deal.

 A group of prominent conservative leaders recently wrote to him asking he do just 
that. They want Mnuchin to insure any deal successfully concluded between the two 
companies will not provide the Chinese national security community a side door 
through which they can obtain critical, sensitive information that, if used improperly, 
could erode the economic and financial stability of the nation.

 China must not be allowed to gain a foothold in the global financial payments market 
unless there are sufficient safeguards in place to prevent it from using the information, 
technology, and economic power to the detriment of America’s economic and national 
security. If President Trump truly intends to “get tough” and put America first this is a 
deal that cannot be allowed to go through without anyone asking tough questions. 

 Beijing’s track record on intellectual property rights, rule of law, consumer protection, 
and currency manipulation is horrible and this deal does not deserve the 
benefit of the doubt it will behave unless it is forced to.

 Roff is a former senior political writer for UPI and a well-known commentator 
based in Washington, D.C. Email him at 

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